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6 Lifestyle Factors That Affect Longevity

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6 Lifestyle Factors That Affect Longevity

A Functional Medicine approach to Longevity Medicine is advanced, personalized, preventive medicine powered by deep biomarkers of aging.

Through the anti-aging models and the study of epigenetics, we now understand that we can control which genes turn on and off by the lifestyle choices we make. With this information, we have the potential to prevent and even reverse these dynamics by understanding an individual’s unique biomarkers.


Do you want to live a long, vibrant life? Currently, the oldest living person is Kane Tanaka, who lives in Japan, and is 119 years old. She shares this privilege of aging with many others throughout the world.

Scientists are studying how certain people, genders, and ethnicities are able to live well beyond their 100th birthday. I don’t know about you, but if I live that long, I’d like to be certain that I have as much health, vitality, and quality to my days as possible.

This is where Longevity Medicine shines. Longevity Medicine is advanced, personalized, preventive medicine powered by deep biomarkers of aging. Through the anti-aging models and the study of epigenetics, we now understand that we can control which genes turn on and off by the lifestyle choices we make. With this information we have the potential to prevent and even reverse these dynamics by understanding an individual’s unique biomarkers.  

Scientists are studying identical twins for this very purpose. They have identical genetic codes, but they may have very different health outcomes and longevity depending on life circumstances and choices. Let’s explore further about the role lifestyle plays in longevity and how functional medicine can play a role.

Lifestyle Factors That Affect Longevity

Standard American Diet (SAD)

Our current diet is full of processed foods, chemicals, and artificial colorings. It is nutrient-poor, calorie-rich, and does not deliver the proper proteins, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients that our cells need to run efficiently.

The SAD diet creates inflammation in the gut, which impairs proper digestion and absorption of nutrients and increases stress on our cellular pathways.

If we want to live long, healthy lives, we need to fuel our cells with high-quality foods.


There are two different types of stress, external and internal.

External stress comes from life situations like a busy work schedule, bad relationships, parenting, and financial hardships.

Internal stress results from lifestyle choices like eating a SAD diet and excessive and strenuous exercise, as these can cause increased physiologic demands on your body.

When stress is ongoing and chronic, whether, from external or internal sources, it impairs digestion, absorption, and hormone synthesis, contributing to inflammation and oxidative damage.  


We are exposed to toxins every day. Toxins include chemicals in our environment (e.g., mold, poor air quality, off-gassing, synthetic fragrance, plastics), our food (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, artificial dyes), and even everyday household personal care products such as phthalates and fragrances.

Our body is built to handle toxins; however, when in excess, these detoxification pathways can be impaired just like everything else. Impaired detoxification will contribute to increased demand and oxidative stress on our body and, ultimately, affect our longevity.  


Most people do not get the appropriate amount of restorative sleep to allow for their body to repair overnight. Insomnia is directly correlated with many health-related conditions. There are numerous reasons why sleep can be impaired, so getting to the root of that will be an important foundation in your health journey.


In and of itself, age is a risk factor for longevity! One reason is that, as we get older, our DNA repair process is less efficient. An important factor in longevity is the concern for the build-up of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable oxygen-containing molecules that, when left to go rogue, will cause oxidation to tissue and impair cell function, including our DNA (think rust on an old car).

Free radicals are generated by infections, toxins, high blood sugar, and even normal human metabolism. We need proper antioxidants to “disarm” these free radicals. The most powerful antioxidant is Glutathione, which the body makes on its own through a process called methylation. Glutathione also helps control gene expression, make neurotransmitters, and detoxify many substances.  


This isn’t quite a lifestyle choice, per se, but as you now have learned, you have the ability to turn your DNA on and off. Translation: you have control of how you wish to experience health.

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for Longevity

To best understand how your body can handle the stress and demands of your lifestyle choices, it is most helpful to look at what is going on directly within the cell.

While your typical annual labs provide a certain amount of insight into your longevity, there are more specific biomarkers that are the more helpful in learning how well your body can perform biochemical processes that are needed to promote cellular health and longevity.  

NutrEval FMV

One of the most comprehensive tests available, the NutraEval FMV, explores over 120 biomarkers and 40 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids through blood and urine samples.

The findings will help you learn about the health of your cells and the degree to which your body is handling oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, methylation imbalance, and toxin exposure.

Your Practitioner will be able to identify areas where your body is struggling and find the root cause of that dynamic. You can reverse many of these dynamics through a comprehensive plan and enhance your longevity.

Methylation Add-On: Methylgenomics

Another functional lab test that may be helpful in exploring your path to longevity is the Methylgenomics test. This test looks at the methylation pathway and will identify any blocks within these pathways.

Methylation is a biochemical process that primarily helps to ensure optimal genetic activation. As I mentioned before, your actual health experience is largely dependent on which lifestyle choices are turning your genes on or off. Many factors can affect our ability to methylate, including genetic SNPs or even nutritional deficiencies.    

Depending on the findings on the NutrEval FMV and Methylgenomics, your practitioner may also recommend further testing to develop a better understanding of your degree of inflammation and oxidative stress:

C-Reactive Protein (CRP)

CRP is made by the liver in response to inflammation. It is non-specific and can be used over time to track trends of inflammation within the body.

Uric Acid

Uric acid is an antioxidant that becomes elevated due to inflammatory conditions like Diabetes Mellitus or gout as part of a protective response. Alternatively, if there is too much demand for antioxidants, your body may not be able to keep up with its production, and you may have low levels on a blood test.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is a standard lab test in a lipid panel that we typically want a plentiful amount of. However, too much of a good thing is not always best. High levels of oxidative stress can impair how your body gets rid of excess HDL, and these “good guys” start to build up and become part of the problem.  

Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT)

GGT is an enzyme primarily made in the liver that, when in the upper half of the normal reference range, may indicate to your practitioner that your body is trying to generate greater levels of Glutathione. Higher demands for Glutathione suggest that your body needs help with detoxification or oxidative stress.

Fasting Glucose, Hemoglobin A1c, Fasting Insulin & C-peptide

The results of these studies will help identify the degree of insulin resistance you have, if any.

In insulin resistance, too much glucose remains in the blood vessels, which causes wear and tear on the lining of blood vessels. This results in increased inflammation and oxidative damage within the blood vessel wall and contributes to further downstream diseases, like cardiovascular disease or dementia.

Complete Blood Count

Your practitioner will order these tests to look for microcytic (small red blood cell) or macrocytic (large red blood cell) anemia. The CBC test is essential to understand how well your cells are oxygenating your tissue.

Moreover, your cells need proper nutrients and amino acids from your diet to function correctly and reduce oxidative damage within the cell itself.

The results of these tests will help guide your practitioner towards specific root causes of your symptoms.

For example, if your cells are small, it could suggest you are not sufficient in iron. Alternatively, large red blood cells make it hard for them to reach the smaller capillaries in your body to oxygenate tissue properly. This can be related to Vitamin B12 or folate, both of which you’ll be tested for in the NutraEval test.

Full Thyroid Panel

The health of your thyroid affects every single metabolic process in your body. A complete assessment of your thyroid health is an important step towards longevity.

Sleep Apnea Work-Up

Do you snore? Talk with your practitioner about whether a sleep study would be a helpful assessment for you.

Every cell in your body needs oxygen for the process of cellular metabolism (how cells create energy). Without it, your cells cannot survive. In the case of sleep apnea, your cells are chronically exposed to low oxygen states that result in downstream disease and impairs your longevity. This is a modifiable risk factor that is important to be addressed.    

Functional Medicine Treatment for Increased Longevity

You can take several steps to ensure your path towards longevity is a successful one.  

Focus on Real, Whole, Organic Foods

This can be overwhelming at first. However, you can start small with simple changes and continue to educate yourself more on healthier food and pantry swaps. As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

By prioritizing how you are nourishing your body, you will be fueling your cells so that they can have optimal functioning and health.

Reduce Your Stress

A shift from a sympathetic, fight or flight state to a parasympathetic, rest and digest state helps to facilitate healing.

Find a hobby that brings joy and passion. I recommend creating a time in your day to incorporate an activity that brings calm to your body.

This can include deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, faith or spirituality practices, singing, dancing, snuggling with a pet or loved one, or time outdoors.

Eliminate or Reduce Toxins

Choose whole, organic foods that contain no preservatives, chemicals, fillers, or pesticides. Eat fish low in mercury (ex/ salmon, sardines, anchovies, haddock).

Swap out synthetic fragrances for high-quality essential oils and consider air filters for your home.

Search the EWG database for healthier alternatives to your home and personal hygiene products. Stop Smoking and reduce or eliminate alcohol.

Move Your Body

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete. The best exercise is the one you enjoy and will repeatedly return to, so get moving!

Find Community

Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with adverse health outcomes. The importance of a social network to build trust, love, and accountability is incredibly beneficial in your overall health.

Consider Supplementation

Depending on your body’s individual needs, supplementation can be incredibly useful while prioritizing foundational health habits, as mentioned above. Your practitioner will be able to recommend the proper supplements based on your lifestyle factors and lab results.


A long, healthy, vibrant life takes work, and each person will have their own unique journey. What is encouraging is that you CAN rewrite your story! You have the power and ability to prevent and even reverse certain dynamics that may otherwise be blocking longevity pathways.

Remember Kane, the 119-year-old, mentioned earlier? Her secrets to longevity coincide with many of the principles written about in this article. We continue to have so much to learn from these incredible centenarians.

In summary, to achieve optimal longevity, you want to minimize what is getting in your way; stressful jobs/relationships, toxic environments, or unhealthy lifestyle habits and maximize all the good stuff.

Focus on clean air and water, whole, nutrient-dense foods, daily movement, and joyful moments.

Accountability creates success, so be sure to partner with a functional medicine provider who can help find what areas of interconnectedness are occurring within your own unique body to make positive changes in achieving longevity and wellness.

Let’s all strive to be like Kane.

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The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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